Fabio Leimer, GP2, Sepang, 2013

Leimer to make practice appearances with Manor

2015 F1 season

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Fabio Leimer, GP2, Sepang, 2013Manor has signed 2013 GP2 champion Fabio Leimer as its reserve driver and will run him in selected first practice sessions during the rest of the season.

Leimer, who was due to race in Japanese Super Formula this year before his deal fell through, will be on “standby to deputise for a race driver in the event that they are unable to take part in race weekend activities”, the team added.

Team principal John Booth said Leimer has been “on [their] radar for a number of years” and his outings in the team’s car will be in order to be able to take over if either Will Stevens or Roberto Merhi are unable to participate.

Leimer said the move is “a huge step for me and I can’t wait to get started and hopefully reward the team’s confidence in me”.

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Keith Collantine
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  • 38 comments on “Leimer to make practice appearances with Manor”

    1. to take over if either Will Stevens or Roberto Merhi are unable to participate.

      Or when their financial backing suddenly isn’t sufficient anymore.

      Anyway both are having anonymous season either way. I still find it hard to see Manor on the grid in 2016.

      1. I thought people were impressed by Will, he’s absolutely dominated Merhi and even if Merhi is a high paying pay driver its still pretty impressive.

        1. @williamstuart With Manor having no rivals on track it’s pretty tough to judge how they’re doing, but I agree that Stevens is doing very well relative to Merhi.

        2. Part of Roberto Merhi’s struggles has been caused because he’s bigger/heavier than Will Stevens & the team have not been able to strip any weight off the car so he’s just been forced to run with a heavier car compared to Will.

          1. Yep, Merhi’s usually faster and their form in WSR showed that, Stevens only got 2/3rds of the points and podiums. Merhi is also the 2011 European F3 champion after all, a close runner-up to Ricciardo in 2008 FR2.0 WEC, and 4th behind Caldarelli, Ricciardo and Bottas in the 2008 Eurocup, the year of that epic battle at Silverstone.

          2. @gt-racer I also read (think suggested by Kravitz) that Merhi doesn’t get the new/better parts and that also explains part of the speed difference.

            Anyway, about his weight disadvantage: it’s ridiculous, no? I was in Spa last weekend, I stood right next to him, and he seemed like a small and rather skinny guy. Ridiculous that a driver with that posture is already disadvantaged.

    2. I am surprised he didn’t manage a reserve role last year: he brings plenty of Swiss francs and is a GP2 champion (albeit more of an honorary one: it took him four attempts). Thank said, last year he did appear to be the weak link in Rebellion’s perennially ill-fortuned #13 line-up, and I don’t think he blew the roof off when he tested for Lotus.

      1. I would prefer having a “honorary” GP2 champion on the F1 grid rather than seeing drivers like Ericsson, who haven’t accomplished even that “honorary” GP2 championship.

        1. @huhhii Not a single GP2 champ was really F1 stuff since ’11 with Grosjean. In between we have had Pantano, Glock and Maldonado…

          That’s about to change for 2015 though.

          1. You think Mitch Evans can win the GP2 title?

            1. Yes, I think he can but I think Vandoorne will be champion this year. he is just a class apart in this field. Evans needs to work on his consistency. Good he already did a stint for Jota at WEC because I think that is where he will end up after 2016.

              Funny thing is I met Evans in his GP3 period, in his GP2 period and few weekends ago at the WEC in Spa, he’s become more experienced and faster but I don’t see him in F1 anymore.

              2016 will probably be a fight between Gasly, Lynn and Evans again where he might claim the title on experience.

            2. @xtwl It’s easy to forget how young Evans is, because it seems like he’s been around forever. He’s a couple of years younger than Vandoorne. That said, he does need to step up his game soon if he wants to get to F1.

            3. I think Evans main problem is he has horrific luck. Sprint race in Bahrain was involved in a racing incident resulting in a puncture. Sprint race in Spain his engine cut out on the way to the grid. Monaco (where hes had 3 podiums in the last 4 races) his engine stopped on his install lap in practice and he got no running. It is true that its his third year in GP2 with Russian Time, but the management of that team changed right before the start of last season and went to iSport. I may be wrong but I believe it changed hands again this season. I was hoping to see him in WSR this year but the Superlicence scheme put an end to that.

            4. Vandoorne would already be in F1 if the tail end of F1 wasn’t in such dire straits IMO. Magnussen said what he said in Autosport as he can actually see a scenario where Vandoorne never gets a drive in F1.

            5. @fastiesty To me, that article tells me Magnussen has been told that Vandoorne will be JB’s successor, and that he should look elsewhere for F1 prospects. I think inference is confirmed by the way in which Ron nearly ruled out a McLaren return for Magnussen during a meeting with Danish businessmen, I which he urged Denmark to back Kevin in his search for another seat. If I was Vandoorne, I’d be feeling quite confident of lining up alongside Alonso for 2016.

            6. NOOOOOO nightmare again for Alonso!!!! lol :p

            7. @countrygent Makes sense, and as part of Vandoorne’s management, I’m sure JB will want him as his successor. McLaren will have to farm one driver out until at least Alonso retires, before bringing them back in. If JB continues for another year, then Vandoorne must be given FP1s at least!

          2. @xtwl – I’d take Leimer over Grosjean any day of the week.

            1. Absolutely not. Grosjean has thoroughly proved his worth. 2013 Season much?

            2. Grosjean still holds the best results in GP2 history. Until Leimer proves himself in F1, I’d prefer Grosjean; just for his GP2 records alone.

            3. @praxis what’s better about Grosjean’s results than Vandoorne’s? Vandoorne’s first season was better than Grosjean’s first, his second is going better as well. Which records does Grosjean hold, then?

              It can’t be number of outright wins, because that belongs to Maldonado. It can’t be number of poles, Vandoorne has scored more consecutive poles than Grosjean ever managed over four years.

            4. @mattds What’s your problem with Grosjean?

            5. @mattds It looks like @praxis was talking about Leimer and not Vandoorne. And yeah, I also prefer Grosjean over Leimer.

            6. @mattds, Vandoorne is quite a talent. We all have big expectations for him. Anyway, among all the GP2 champions in F1, I’d certainly count Romain as the 4th best, after Rosberg, Hamilton & Hülkenberg… well maybe not Rosberg.

              @corix, thanks for clearing it up. Saved me the trouble :D

            7. @praxis @corix I know the comparison was between Leimer and Grosjean. But then there was mention of Grosjean still holding “the best results in GP2 history” and him holding “GP2 records” and it got confusing, because I don’t know on what grounds those statements are based.

              Basically I’m asking which GP2 records Grosjean holds and why his results are better than Vandoorne (which I take as an example). Because Vandoorne holds some pole records. Likewise Maldonado holds record for most wins.

              I’m still interested in the answers to these questions :)

            8. @dour: why would you assume I have a problem with Grosjean? Because I don’t, and I don’t believe anything in my post suggests that.

              We’re not going to take comparisons between drivers and questions about accomplishments as criticism for said drivers, right?

          3. @xtwl And even GRO wasn’t considered F1 material until…..2013. Late 2013.

          4. @xtwl @huhhii @fastiesty Goodness me guys no, don’t throw the baby out with bathwater. GP2 might have created a few “honorary” champions recently, but that cannot deny the fact that it has helped a few real talents along the way too. Personally, I wouldn’t compare Maldonado and Grosjean’s championship successes with those of Valsecchi, Leimer and Palmer.

            Maldonado’s success is not evidence of a series that doesn’t reward the best drivers, but of a perennial truth about motor-racing: the grid can’t be filled with superstars all the time, and 2010, like 2012, was a weak year for GP2. That said, on the basis that most would regard him a better driver based on his F1 career than Pastor, Perez really has no excuse for failing to win the championship in his second year. Hulkenberg won his rookie season the year before.

            However for me, Grosjean’s championship success was infinitely more a mark of the man. He was by no means the preseason favourite, Bianchi was, and this respect he can owe his championship to his ability to get to grips with the Pirellis faster than Jules. Couple that to a F3 Euro Series title in 2007, and a French Formula Renault title, plus the Silverstone win in his season in a Ford GT in the FIA GT1 championship, and I think Grosjean’s case to legitimacy is sound.

            Grosjean remains more error prone than most, especially since the start of the 2014 season. Along with Vettel, I would argue the move away from V8s has hurt Grosjean the most. We have seen plenty of fundamental driving errors indicative of a driver that is not comfortable. And yet in 2015 he has been a consistent point-scorer, and on many occasions, like China especially, it would have been difficult to imagine how he could have done a better job. Yes, like Hulkenberg, the ship to championship-winning stardom has sailed, but he remains a highly competent and useful peddler.

            1. @countrygent Calm your tits, we were only talking about the champions.

            2. @xtwl I was under the impression my tits remained calm when I simply pointed out that GP2 champions Maldonado and Grosjean won the title fully deservedly IMO.

            3. @countrygent Oh, alright. Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Hamilton and Grosjean have been the only champions that were really worthy of a shot in F1 is all I’m saying.

            4. @countrygent @xtwl @huhhii Well, Glock and Maldonado didn’t do too badly, while Perez and Bianchi should get longer F1 careers (but it’ll be Maldonado now instead of Jules). But those are the stand-out four at the moment.

    3. Robert McKay
      3rd June 2015, 20:48

      I’m actually surprised Mehri’s still in the second Manor, the vibe when they announced him for Australia was very much a “one or two races at best” feel.

      1. I was thinking the same, but if Manor are happy with the job he is doing, and happy with how much they pay him, and if Mehri is happy for the same reasons, then it definitely makes sense.

      2. yeah, same here. thought spain would be his last race. but so far they’ve confirmed merhi race-by-race, maybe leimer will outbid him over the summer. time will tell.

    4. This confirmation sounds like they plan to put Leimer in a car already this year. Does Leimer carry ties to Renault by any chance? Lots of people being linked to Manor these days.

      1. @chrischrill I was thinking the same. Maybe he’s a driver choosen by renault for next year and they want to test him against Stevens and Mehri, which are both decent/good drivers.

    5. How long before Manor put him in permanently to replace Merhi? There were grumbles that they weren’t poetically please with his performance this year so far.

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